Monday, December 29, 2014

The Course of this World

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. -  James 1:13-15

If there is one thing in this game you have begun to learn, it should be this...without disciplining yourself, you are not going to do yourself any good in anything. Calorie counting, watching the kinds of calories, exercising more than once a week, not overeating, etc...are just a few areas we must maintain in the form of discipline or we will find ourselves spinning our wheels in the race to health.

If the truth be known, life is about discipline and true living is about restricting your appetites. Many think restriction is bondage. They equate not having the 'freedom' to do what they want, is slavery or a loss of power. But in reality, true freedom come with discipline. Ask the heroin addict, the crack head, the cocaine fiend, the alcoholic, the smoker, the porn addict...ask them who is more free...the one who has disciplined themselves and restricted themselves from partaking in such excesses or the one who can't break the chains of addiction that now envelopes every fiber of their lives. The scripture doesn't lie! It says in James, that every man is drawn away and enticed of his own lusts. All of us have our own bodily appetites within us that draw us to do evil or obtain something for a sense of momentary satisfaction. Just as much as we 'feel' hunger or pains of thirst, there are other urges and appetites of the flesh. Our carnal nature desires many, power, greed, material things, and such like. As James goes on to say the basic course of this world is fairly simple...lust, sin, and then death.

Look around you, the course of this world is set to a race to fulfill its lusts. We see something and it provokes something within us. James says, when our lusts hath conceived, it brings forth sin. So our lusts/appetites are those inner desires to have or obtain something. At that point, we have a choice, we can either kick the thought out because we know in the 'long run' it will destroy us or we will play with the thought. We will let it lay there and germinate and the next thing we know, like the moment two seeds collide in the womb, it begins to grow. We begin to move ourselves into a mode of obtaining the appetites of our desires. Sin is nothing more than our actions being moved by what was already conceived in our minds.

Now the sad thing is...the end of this course is 'death'. Although sometimes the end result of a lust is literal death, the reality of an unchecked lust is usually felt somewhere down the road. It is the harvest of a seed sown years ago. Many alcoholics are wounded people who used the alcohol to soothe over their deeply embedded anger. The scripture says that 'anger rests in the bosom of a fool' and most people who are 'addicts' have allowed anger, from a very early time in their lives, to rests within them. Which in turn set forth the course of the world which we are discussing in today's blog. Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden or they would surely die. When they disobeyed God, they didn't die a literal death, but their 'death' was a multi-fold death. They were cursed with manifold curses of trials and tribulations of the living within their own mortal bodies. They were expelled from the garden, which means they lost direct communication with the God of their salvation. So many things were lost when they went to fulfill their won lusts and desires. Though they didn't die a literal death, they died a spiritual death. So it is with us, when we refuse to restrict the appetites of our natures, we become wrapped within chains of darkness. Our minds become so obsessed in pursuit of fulfilling our lusts that somewhere down the road, we lose the 'light' of the way.

If all that is in the world is the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, then the world is a manifestation of the fulfillment of these categories in people's lives. In a world lost without any restrictions and living in the idea that freedom is doing whatever feels good and fulfilling the lusts of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, then what we see around us today is nothing but a result of the 'course of this world'.

Once again, you may be saying, 'What in the world does this have to do with this blog and playing the game?' Well, I would have to say...EVERYTHING! If you will be honest with yourself (and honesty is the only way you can truly move forward). How did you get here? Why are you over weight? Why are you bound to food? Somewhere you followed the course of this world. You gave in to your pain. You justified your hurts. You followed your appetites and now you find yourself walking the tight rope of 'death'. An undisciplined life has not lead to freedom but it has brought you to this place and now the most difficult thing you will ever do is break the chains of bad habits and wrong thinking in your life! There are basically two paths you can follow: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. Right have a pure and true revelation of the lack of discipline. Don't be fooled again, the pain you feel right now is because you thought true freedom came from following your own will.

Today its time to step off the course of this world and follow a new path into the light of true freedom.

The Road not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth;and having perhaps the better claim because it was grassy and wanted wear;though as for that, the passing there had worn them really about the same,in leaves no feet had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --I took the one less traveled by,and that has made all the difference

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And both that morning equally lay
I shall be telling this with a sigh

Submitted by: Elder Green

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Good Thing

[Psa 84:11 KJV For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.]

After asking myself this question for years "If You don't withhold any good thing from me, why don't I have the things I want?", I decided it was time to look at what the Lord calls a "good thing".

[Mat 7:11 KJV] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
[Luk 11:13 KJV] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

In one version of the story its "good things", in another its the Holy Spirit. One person sees the Holy Ghost as a good thing, the other put it directly as the Holy Ghost and both were right.

Lets look at good things...

Provision and tithing
[Deu 26:10-12 KJV And now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;]
In giving we are given to. As we receive freely, give. God owns all things and by giving back to Him in tithing we are supporting the very thing that gives us life. He provides for us and we in turn provide for the ministry, which fulls circles back to providing for us the things necessary for salvation.

The promises of possessing the land and defeating their enemy. 
[Jos 21:43-45 KJV And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.]
Your heart is a land that needs to have the "ites" cast out, the strong holds broken and the enemy defeated in. God has promised not only to give you the victory in your "outside" life, but of that in your heart. Which when you posses your heart, you'll have a peace that passes all understanding.

A wife
[Pro 18:22 KJV Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.]
A wife, all the women rejoice right. Lets remind ourselves that women type out as churches. A wife here for this discussion I believe fits as the church. We are married to Christ. The true church is married to Christ, false churches are unmarried women or harlots.

[Jer 33:14-15 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.] I know this one seems to go without saying, He died for us. It seems that simple, but time to read the gospels all over again. He lived the cross daily. He walked the walk, talked the talk and died the death we all struggle daily to do. But then He went above that too, He was beaten, whipped, shamed and falsely accused; just to name a few things He did for us. [Jhn 1:46 KJV And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.] Nathanael found out that there was a good thing that came out of Nazareth.

Everything that was made
[Gen 1:25, 31 KJV And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. ... 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.] Everything made by God is good. Yes everything. If it's evil it pushes you toward Him. If it's good, its a blessing from Him that you can praise Him for. All things work together for our good. Darkness shows how good the light is. You need opposites to understand each of them.

Preaching / teaching
[Luk 10:42 KJV But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.] Mary choose to hear what God had to say to her. Going to the house to hear the word of God preached to us is a good thing.

Helping Saints
[Phl 1:6 KJV Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:] Search for Truth classes, dinners with saints, leading by example, taking time out to build up your brother or sister; this is a good work.

[Jas 1:17 KJV Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.]
As I continue to think about the list of what God calls a good thing, my mind goes over these:
Pastors, Elders, saints, every trial, the golden nuggets of revelation you get, those ah ha moments, praise, worship, music, prayer..the TRUTH. So many things that God doesn't withhold from His people. [Psa 34:10 KJV The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.]

[Psa 92:1 KJV [A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day.] It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:]

A "good thing" isn't getting things you want, or having no trails, the simple and easy life. A good thing is being told no, having trails and climbing up mountains. He doesn't withhold that which is necessary for you to make it into heaven. He gives you everything you need to make and that's a very good thing.

Submitted by: Tina Marie

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Creatures of Habit

"The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." ~ Samuel Johnson

I would say right about now, all of us are beginning to feel the weight of our habits. All of us have habits, both good and bad. A habit is a noun which means; a pattern of behavior acquired through frequent repetition. Obtaining and maintaining habits in our lives is, well, just a part of life. Yet, once again, a habit is one of those two edged swords that can make you or break you. A habit can be one of your greatest servants or one of your worst task masters. "Nothing is stronger than habit." (Ovid) As Samuel Johnson said in the quote above, the smallest of repeated behaviors we do can and will eventually turn into a way of life. Though seemingly minuscule in its beginnings, the behavior grows into a stronghold that is not easily broken. Once a habit is entrenched within our psyche's, our life is framed by those things we habitually do. The famous author, Stephen Covey said, "Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconscious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character." The fact of the matter is our habits are a reflection of who we are and the thoughts we have held dear to our souls. When we do something, for the most part, it is not some spontaneous effort or idea, but the way we do react is nothing more than a composite of our habits. As creatures of habits, we can only act according to the those patterns we have consistently adhered to from our youth into adulthood.

Yes, we are but a walking harvest of our habits! Think of the myriad of behaviors we do on a daily basis. How did you first begin this behavior? Why did you begin to do this behavior? Those behaviors just didn't happen. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." Somewhere long ago, in response to a situation in life, we began to will ourselves to act in a certain way, and now those acts are entrenched themselves into our way of living. "Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables." (Spanish Proverb) You see, we first make our habits, then in the end our habits make us. Its not that we consciously wish to have bad habits but they sneak up on us, until we become their slaves.

Lets get one thing clear. Most of the time, when habits are discussed, its always discussed within the context of being a bad thing. Habits are a necessary way of getting things done in life. Habits make us predictable and allow a certain stability to operate in our lives. But habits are not neutral, and can only take on the persona we give them within the context of our life's daily routines. Vincent Lombardi said, "Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."

Let me give you a personal for instance of a habit in my life. For years, I was an advocate of eating healthier, and taking supplements to help with our health, but there was a thing I avoided at all costs when it came to health. This thing is called EXERCISE! Though every time I read books and articles about healthy living, the word, exercise, was a key component to bringing healing to the body. I always had an excuse to why I couldn't exercise. One day, at about the age of 37, I was laying sick in bed. I realized just eating a decent diet and taking supplements, obviously wasn't enough. So began a journey to change a bad exercising to exercising. From being repulsed and finding every reason in the book to not exercise to changing my life into a habit of routinely exercising was not an easy task. I have always told people they can't just stop a bad habit by doing nothing. There must be a good habit ready to replace a bad habit or at least a desire to acquire a new habit to take the place of the bad one. Desiderius Erasmus said, "A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit." Deep down, I truly disliked how I felt about myself and where I was going. I did not like my bad habit of non-exercise. (Who really likes their bad habits?) So, I stepped into the odyssey of overcoming the bad with the good. I bought a treadmill! But guess what? Purchasing a treadmill did not break my bad habit of no exercise! Soon my inspired purchase was a very nice coat rack rather than a bad habit buster I had bought it do for me! Yep, that's right, the treadmill didn't do a thing for me... except drain my wallet of a monthly payment. Oh yeah...and every time I walked past my high tech coat rack, I could swear it laughed and taunted me with snide remarks!

Let me just lay it on the line here! The only way to overcome a bad habit is to replace the bad habit with something good, and this takes EFFORT and WORK. I try to tell people if they can do the good for at least three consecutive weeks, then you have a great possibility of breaking the chains of the bad habit. You can pull down the strongholds that keep you from obtaining the desires of your heart. It was a bumpy road to victory for me, but here I sit, writing this article (eight marathons later) trying to inspire you to believe it can be accomplished, IF you put your mind to it! It took me awhile to finally die to live, but when I did die out to my lazy ways, and began exercise on a consistent basis, something great happened. I realized how great I felt. I realized it wasn't as difficult as my imaginations had made exercise out to be. I came to many realizations concerning the power of habits and their control over our lives. I won't lie to you, do I struggle from time to time with my exercise...sure, but it doesn't take me long to remind myself of all the good it does for me and how I feel when I conquer the myriad of voices that call me back to my cave of apathy.

An ancient proverb says, "Good habits are formed from resisting temptation." You must begin to resist the temptation to stay in the bed of ease LONG ENOUGH to run into through the finish line of successful doing! Quit thinking you can't break the bad habit and step into the power of today! TODAY is the day of salvation! Today is the day you begin to break that bad habit one chain link at a time!

Submitted by: Elder David Green